Renton pleads not guilty to protest-related charge
Medicinal cannabis campaigner Rose Renton has pleaded not guilty to an offensive behaviour charge, related to a protest at the Nelson Market.
Charges were laid following an incident last year where thenEnvironment Minister Nick Smith allegedly had rat poison hurled at him at the market. In September, Nelson MP Smith said protesters had thrown and rubbed rat poison on him while he was at his National Party caravan at the Saturday markets.
Renton entered a not guilty plea to the offensive behaviour charge on Monday in the Nelson District Court, and will be back in court on May 11 for a defended hearing.
Following the reported inci- dent, medicinal cannabis campaigner Renton publicly admitted involvement, stating she had been making a ‘‘symbolic statement’’ against the Brook Valley poison drop. However she denied Smith’s allegation that she rubbed poison in his face.
Smith said on Monday he had confidence in both the police and court system. ‘‘The charge of offensive behaviour is very low order and only comes with the potential for a fine.’’
The alleged incident coincided with the first of three drops of bait laced with the poison brodifacoum at the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary, near Nelson.
Renton is the mother of Nelson teenager Alex Renton who was the first Kiwi to be treated with imported medicinal cannabis. He died in July 2015.
New deputy for NZ First
NZ First deputy leader Ron Mark has been rolled by his caucus colleague Fletcher Tabuteau. Tabuteau, 43, has been with the party since the beginning and his Tauranga businessman uncle, Tom Gear, is a close friend of party leader Winston Peters. ’’After careful consideration, the caucus today supported Fletcher Tabuteau to take over the role, and I congratulate him on this appointment as deputy leader,’’ Peters said. ‘‘New Zealand First extends its immense gratitude for the service of Ron Mark as deputy leader. The party recognises Ron is an integral member of the team and we look forward to him playing a key role in the current government in his capacity as Minister of Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs.’’
Warning on ecstasy
A dodgy batch of ecstasy that left 13 people in hospital was likely supplied at a music festival. Health officials sent out a warning on Sunday after nine patients arrived in Christchurch Hospital at the weekend presenting with symptoms and side effects associated with having taken an MDMA-containing substance, more commonly known as ecstasy. Four more patients went to hospital on Monday. The patients were aged between 15 and 27. Detective Inspector Greg Murton said the drugs were most likely supplied at Electric Avenue, held in Hagley Park on Saturday with about 13,000 people attending. He said the pills were ‘‘very easy to conceal’’, leaving organisers little hope of picking them up. Murton said most people taking the drug had ‘‘no idea what’s in it’’. Christchurch Hospital emergency department consultant Dr Suzanne Hamilton said earlier a faulty batch may be responsible as the admissions happened in a short space of time and in one place. ‘‘It reinforces the fact that you can never be sure exactly what is in an illicitly supplied drug, and that the effects on your health can be severe and long-lasting, even fatal.’’’
Cattle on conservation land
The Department of Conservation is unsure how an area of the Takitimu Conservation Area will recover after a farmer allowed cattle to graze there illegally. DOC said about 380 cows were in part of the conservation area for about two weeks last year. In a statement on Monday, DOC said Wairaki Station Ltd was sentenced in the Invercargill District Court on February 20 after admitting one charge of ‘‘knowing and without authority carrying out an activity, namely farming operations, on a conservation area’’. Fines of $52,450 were imposed. DOC acting operations manager John McCarroll said the Takitimu Conservation Area had significant conservation values and the cattle caused considerable damage and impacts including stock tracking, heavy pugging of stream riparian margins and wet areas, and vegetation effects. ‘‘How well this area recovers is unknown at this stage.’’